Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School Featured!!

Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School is featured this month in Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids.  Check out this great tween magazine that highlights author interviews, reviews, excerpts, and more.

An Odyssey for the New Year

Every New Year begins a new journey.  An odyssey, if you will, where we aspire to reach a destination of goals, resolutions, and ambitions.  Of course there are always deterrents.  Sometimes monsters as ferociously daunting as Scylla or Charybdis from Homer’s Odyssey obstruct our path.  But we are resolute, steadfastly brave and courageous as we face down our demons, just as Odysseus was in trying to reach his destination of Ithaca - home to his beloved Penelope and Telemachus.

This semester I will be undertaking an odyssey of my own, as I teach Homer’s epic.  After a quick invocation to the literary muse, I review the following epic conventions, pleasantly surprised as my students eagerly take notes and ask clarifying questions.  

  • The Epic Hero
  • Lengthy Narrative
  • Lofty Tone and Style
  • Epic Similes
  • Catalogs/Genealogies
  • Supernatural Involvement
  • Invocation
  • In Medias Res
  • Voyage Across the Sea
  • Trip to the Underworld
  • Epic Battles

At first, I’m bewildered how much they dig Homer’s interminable tome; yet, a quick analysis reveals the striking similarities they have with Odysseus and the epic genre itself.  Just like Odysseus, tweens are heroes of their own story.  Getting through a day of middle school might seem like a trip to the Underworld; they certainly have their own epic battles of drama to fight; and don’t even get me started on their plights of temptation.  But like Odysseus, they persevere (with a little help from the gods of course).  And in the end, they are winning the contest to prove their identity and retake their own throne, hopefully having grown in wisdom, judgment, and self-control.

As adults, the theme of The Odyssey retains its relevance as well.  Maybe we haven’t even reached our own Ithaca yet, but we’re still traveling and battling, island after island.  And that’s okay because as we know by now, life isn’t about the destination - it’s about the journey.  It’s our odyssey – monsters, goddesses, and all.

For classroom activities and lessons on The Odyssey and other classics, visit my store at TeachersPayTeachers:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

'Twas the Night Before Christmas, I was reading a book...

Here is a list of my favorite Christmas classics that never fail to get me in the holiday spirit.  As Christmas creeps closer, I wrap myself in my favorite cuddle blanket, pour some hot cocoa (the frothy kind, made with real milk, and bobbing marshmallows), and go back to a time when I, too believed in a jolly man in red...

1) A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

2) The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg

3) How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss

4) "The Gift of the Magi" - O. Henry

5) The Nutcracker - E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrations by Maurice Sendak

6) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson

7) The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans

8) The Night Before Christmas - Jan Brett

9) The Tailor of Gloucester - Beatrix Potter

10) The Father Christmas Letters - J.R.R. Tolkien

Merry Christmas!!!

"God bless us, everyone!"  Tiny Tim, A Christmas Carol  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Books Make the Best Gifts! Support an Indie Author Today...

Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School

Time to put the freak-out on pause because outgoing, boy-crazy Lucy Pringle and shy, studious, bespectacled CeCee Cruz have the goods on how to make middle school the best three years ever! Lucy and CeCee-the official self-proclaimed Madison Heights Middle School experts on how to deal with haters, hormones, and hot lunch dilemmas-are ready to demystify swirlie urban legends and dish about academic and social topics. They're keeping it real, lacing diary entries with their own daily escapades regarding skater slacker boyfriend crushes, BFF shopping trips to the mall, and BEE (Bitter Eternal Enemies) text wars. The two seventh graders swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth . . . so help them Good Fairy of Popularity. In this handbook, two girls who have already survived boyfriends, sleepovers, nerd crushes, detentions, and runaway pimples share helpful hints and lingo lessons that will help tweens not only survive, but thrive while navigating through all the gory glory of middle school.  

Check out Lucy and CeCee's official blog at

Winner of Editor's Choice, Rising Star, San Francisco Festival of Books - Young Adult Honorable Mention, and New York Festival of Books - Young Adult Honorable Mention Awards.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Books Make the Best Gifts! Support an Indie Author Today...

Pretty Dolls - Young Readers Picture Book

Pretty eyes and pretty hair, we're the best dolls anywhere.
If you were a pretty doll, you'd be up here standing tall...

Gracie is the purple-eyed, one-armed, spiky-haired doll who has won the snuggly arms and heart of Tasha. Only Emily-Nicole, the prettiest porcelain doll in Tasha's collection, will have none of it. What Tasha doesn't know is that when the lights go out, the doll wars begin....Pretty Dolls is Winner of the Reader Views and Character Building Counts Best Children's Book of the Year and featured on and

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thankful for Books!

In Honor of Thanksgiving...

I give thanks for ten of my favorite books growing up...the ones that have influenced me, taken me to different worlds, and fueled my love for the written word...

Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Assorted short stories and poems – Edgar Allan Poe

Carrie – Stephen King

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Which books are you most thankful for?  Which books have changed your life?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Smells Like Tween Spirit: Get to Know Lucy and CeCee

Lucy Pringle and CeCee Cruz are the zany "authors" of the award-winning Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School.  L & C will put your freak-out on pause as they give helpful hints, scary switch solutions, and lingo lessons on how to navigate middle school.  Their solemn promise is to to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help them good fairy of popularity.

Full Name: Lucy Anne Pringle

Biggest Dream: To be popular and have a boyfriend with a one-syllable J name like Jim, Jake, or Joel; to be invited to Kandi Klass’s annual birthday sleepover party*

Favorite Word: Ew!

Favorite Color: Bubblegum pink

Biggest Fear: Being ignored

Siblings: Older sister, Lilly (sixteen years old and thinks she’s all that), and younger sister, Lacey (six years old and soooo annoying!)

Three Words to Describe Self: Bouncy, spazzy, chatty

Thing I Love about Self: Kinda cute toes

Thing I Hate about Self: Eyebrows are bordering on a unibrow but too scared to pluck

Birthday: April 23

Most Valued Possession: My faux Coach purse

Three Things I’d Take on a Deserted Island: My faux Coach purse, autographed picture of Justin Bieber purchased on eBay, Taylor Swift CD

Obsession: Astrology and my less-than-perfect complexion making me feel like Zit-zilla

Biggest Annoyance: Being perpetually grounded to the Tower of Pringle

Secret: I’m 99.9 percent positive everyone at Madison Heights thinks I’m a dork

Bestest Bestie: CeCee Cruz

Luv Her Cuz: She has great specs appeal

Favorite Book: Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham

Favorite Movie: The Princess Diaries (reminds me that dreams do come true)

Hobby: Going to the mall; reading Seventeen, Teen Vogue, and CosmoGIRL

Favorite Food: Cinnabons and Taco Bell (not together, but wouldn’t be opposed)

*Kandi Klass is the VIP queen bee of Madison Heights Middle School. She is the standard by which all other MHMS girls are measured and both my idol and the bane of my existence. Her birthday is April 2—the day of her annual birthday sleepover party. It’s my absolute dream to be invited. If only she knew I existed …

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  

Full Name: Cecelia Elena Cruz

Biggest Dream: To seek the truth and see that good conquers evil (Okay—I’m an over-the-top fantasy geek)

Favorite Word: Tolkienesque

Favorite Color: Magenta

Biggest Fear: Failure to achieve my middle school* scholastic quest

Siblings: Older sister, Cora (fifteen and a sophomore in high school)

Three Words to Describe Self: Quiet, brainy, trendsetter**

Thing I Love about Self: Astute observer of the human condition

Thing I Hate about Self: I hiccup when I get nervous (the superloud kind)

Birthday: August 28

Most Valued Possession: My Lady of Guadalupe locket from my great-grandmother

Three Things I’d Take on a Deserted Island: My Lady of Guadalupe locket, iPod, family photo

Obsession: In lieu of any magical crystal amulet, I shall never be without my Blistex

Biggest Annoyance: People who don’t use the gifts bestowed on them and who are mean for no reason

Secret: I have a belly ring (Shhhhh …)

Bestest Bestie: Lucy Pringle

Luv Her Cuz: She makes me laugh and reminds me not to take myself so seriously

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

Favorite Movie(s): The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King

Hobby: Editor of school newspaper

Favorite Food: Twizzler Nibs

*Middle school is kind of like Middle-earth. It’s a magical journey filled with elves, dwarves, hobbits, queens, kings, and a few corrupted wizards. Word to the wise: pick your traveling companions well. Ones with the courage and moral fiber to persevere. Ones who wield their lip gloss like magic wands when confronted with danger. This way, when you pass through the congested hallways rife with pernicious diversion, you achieve your desired destination—or at least your next class.

**Irony alert—I’m a class-A brainiac, but my clothes are way fetch! (Take that, Gretchen Wieners!)